Many athletes have quirky superstitions, like the hockey goalie who talks to his posts or the baseball player who refuses to wash his shirt between games. Some sports just seem to lend themselves to superstitions and eccentric routines. Have you ever watched a tennis player preparing to serve? They don’t just step up to the line ready to hit the ball, they have a rigid schedule that they adhere to before they serve. The ball has to be bounced the right number of times, the racket has to be spun, they have to adjust their shirt or skirt or socks. Only after they’ve completed these voodoo-esque rituals are they ready to serve.
These bizarre traditions can’t possibly enhance performance, which is to say that playing in a fresh shirt as opposed to a smelly one is not going to make you hit the ball any harder. I’ve never known a runner who talked to his shoes or who had any other idiosyncrasies. like to think it’s because we are an extremely intelligent group. We don’t buy into all that foolish mumbo jumbo. Although, you do have that lucky race shirt that you always wear. And now that I think of it you do always put your timing chip on the right shoe, but I suppose that’s just good common sense since it balances out your watch always being on your left hand. If you’re anything like me then you’re also careful not to let your old running shoes “see” your new shoes, but I don’t think there’s anything quirky about that, is there?
Often, these superstitions are just routines that help us to stay focused and avoid distraction. It may be as simple as visualizing the race or going over your strategy in your mind. You may recite your goal splits while standing at the start, or size up your competition to find someone to pace with. Perhaps you have to remind yourself to start slowly or perhaps you rehearse your mantras, being careful not to appear as though you’re talking to your shoes.
So let’s hear it, what are your superstitions? What helps you stay focused on race day? Oh, and for the sake of the rest of us who toe the line next to you, please don’t suggest not washing your shirt between races.
Site Announcement: Please read this if you have a running blog.